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edited by R. H. Cunningham

Chapter I.

Carew's Boyhood. And how he became a Gipsy.

Mr. Bamfylde Moore Carew was the son of a clergyman near Tiverton, in Devonshire, and born in 1693. He was tall and majestic, his limbs strong and well-proportioned, his features regular, and his countenance open and ingenious, bearing the resemblance of a good-natured mind. At twelve years old he was put to Tiverton school, where he soon got a considerable knowledge of the Latin and Greek tongues, so as to be fitted for the University, that in due time he might be fitted for the church, for which his father designed him; but here a new exercise engaged his attention, namely, that of hunting, in which he soon made a prodigious progress. The Tiverton scholars had command of a fine cry of hounds, which gave Carew a frequent opportunity of exercising his beloved employment, and getting acquainted with John Martin, Thomas Coleman, and John Escott, young gentlemen of the best rank and fortune. One day a farmer came to the school and complained of a deer, with a collar round its neck, that he had seen running through his grounds, and had done him much damage, desiring them to hunt it down and kill it. They, wishing for no better sport, on the next day put the old farmer's request into execution, in doing of which they did much damage to the neighbouring grounds, whose owners, together with Colonel Nutcombe, to whom the deer belonged, came and complained to the schoolmaster of the injuries they had suffered by his scholars; they were very severely reprimanded and hard threatened for the same. The resentment of the present reproof and the fear of future chastisement made them abscond from the school; and going into a brick ale-house, about half a mile from Tiverton, there they accidentally fell in company with some gipsies, who were then feasting and carousing. This company consisted of seventeen, who were met on purpose for festivity and jollity; which, by plenty of meat, fowl, flowing cups of beer, cider, etc., they seemed to enjoy to their hearts' content. In short, the freedom, mirth, and pleasure that appeared among them, invited our youngsters to enlist into their company; which, on communicating to the gipsies, they would not believe them, as thinking they jested; but on tarrying with them all night and continuing in the same mind next morning, they at length thought them serious and encouraged them; and, after going through the requisite ceremonials and administering to them the proper oath, they admitted them into their number.

The reader will, no doubt, wonder to hear of the ceremonials and oaths among gipsies and beggars, but that will cease on being informed, that these people are subject to a form of government and laws peculiar to themselves, and pay due obedience to one who is styled their king; to which honour Carew in a short time arrived, after having by many acts proved himself worthy of it. The substance of them is this—Strong love and mutual regard for each member in particular, and the whole community in general; which, being taught them in their infancy, grows up with them, prevents oppression, frauds, and over-reaching one another, which is common among other people, and tends to the very worst of evils. This happiness and temper of mind so wrought on Carew as to occasion the strongest attachment to them for forty years, refusing very large offers that had been made to him to quit their society.

Being thus initiated into the ancient society of gipsies, who take their name from Egypt—a place well known to abound in learning, and the inhabitants of which country travel about from place to place to communicate knowledge to mankind—Carew did not long continue in it before he was consulted in important matters; particularly Madam Musgrove, of Monkton, near Taunton, hearing of his fame, sent for him to consult him in an affair of difficulty. When he was come, she informed him that she suspected a large quantity of money was buried somewhere about her house, and if he would acquaint her with the particular place, she would handsomly reward him. Carew consulted the secrets of his art on this occasion, and, after a long study, he informed the lady that under a laurel tree in the garden lay the treasure she sought for; but that she must not seek it till such a day and hour. The lady rewarded him with twenty guineas; but, whether Carew mistook his calculations or the lady mistook her lucky hour, we cannot tell, but truth obliges us to say, the lady having dug below the root of the laurel tree she could not find the treasure.

When he was further initiated, he was consulted in important matters and met with better success; generally giving satisfaction by his wise and sagacious answers. In the meantime his parents sorrowed after him, as one that was no more, having advertised him in all the public papers and sent messengers after him to almost every part of the kingdom; till about a year and a half afterwards, when Carew, hearing of their grief, and being struck with tenderness thereat, repaired to his father's house. He was so disguised they did not know him, but when they did their joy was beyond expressing, tenderly embracing him, bedewing his cheeks with tears and kisses, and all his friends and neighbours showed every demonstration of joy at his return. His parents did everything to render home agreeable to him; but the uncommon pleasure he had enjoyed in the community he had left, their simplicity, freedom, sincerity, mirth, and frequent change of habitation, and the secret presages of the honour he has since arrived at, sickened and palled all other diversions, and at last prevailed over his filial duty, for one day, without taking leave of his friends or parents, he went back to them again, where he was heartily welcomed, both to his own and their satisfaction, they being glad to regain one who was likely to become so useful a member of their community.

Chapter II.

Carew's First Adventure in his New Profession.

Carew being again initiated among them, at the first general assembly of the gipsies, took the oaths of allegiance to their sovereign, by whom he was soon sent out on a cruise against their enemies. Carew now set his wits to work how to succeed: so equipping himself with an old pair of trousers, a piece of a jacket, just enough to cover his nakedness, stockings full of holes, and an old cap, he forgot both friends and family and became nothing more or less than an unfortunate shipwrecked seaman. In this, his first excursion, he gained much credit, artfully imitating passes and certificates that were necessary for him to travel unmolested. After a month's travel he happened to meet with his old school-fellow Coleman, who had once left the gipsies' society, but, for the same reason as himself, returned to them again. Great was their joy at meeting, and they agreed to travel some time together; so entering Exeter, they, in one day, raised a contribution of several pounds.

Having obtained all he could from this stratagem, he then became a plain, honest farmer, whose grounds had been overflowed, and cattle drowned; his dejected countenance and mournful tale, together with a wife and seven helpless infants being partakers of his misfortunes, gained him both pity and profit.

Having obtained a considerable booty by these two stratagems, he returned to his companions, where he was received with great applause; and, as a mark of their respect, seated him next the king. He soon became a great man in the profession and confined not himself from doing good to others, when it did not infringe upon the community of which he was a member.

His next stratagem was to become a madman; so stripping himself quite naked, he threw a blanket over him and then he was, "Poor mad Tom, whom the foul fiend had led through fire and through flame; through fire and whirlpool, over bog and quagmire; that hath laid knives under his pillow, and halters in his pew; set ratsbane for his porridge, and made him proud at heart to ride on a bay trotting-horse over four-inch bridges; to curse his own shadow for a traitor; who eats the swimming-frog, the toad, the tadpole, the wall-newt, and the water-newt; that in the fury of his heart, when the foul fiend rages, swallows the old rat and ditch dog; drinks the green mantle of the standing pool:

And mice and rats, and such like gear,
Have been Tom's food for seven long year.

"O do de, do de, do de! bless thee! from whirlwind, star-blasting, and taking! Do poor Tom some charity, whom the foul fiend vexes. There I could have him now—and there!—and there!—and here again!—and there!—Through the sharp hawthorn blows the cold wind—Tom's a cold!—who gives anything to poor Tom?"

In this character, with such like expressions, he entered the houses of both small and great, claiming kindred to them, and committing all kinds of frantic actions, such as beating himself, offering to eat coals of fire, running against the wall, and tearing to pieces whatever garments were given to him to cover his nakedness; by which means he raised considerable contributions.

He never was more happy than when he was engaged in some adventure; therefore he was always very diligent to inquire when any accident happened, especially fire, to which he would immediately repair, and, getting information of the causes, names, trades, and circumstances of the unhappy sufferers, he would assume one of them, and burning some part of his clothes, by way of demonstration, run to some place distant, pass for one of them, gain credit and get much profit. Under this character he had once the boldness to address a justice, who was the terror and professed enemy to all the gipsies, yet he so well managed the affair, that in a long examination he made him believe he was an honest miller, whose house, mill and substance had been consumed by fire, occasioned by the negligence of the apprentice; and accordingly, got a bountiful sum for his relief, the justice not in the least suspecting a defraud.

He had such wonderful facility in every character he assumed, that he even deceived those who thought themselves so well acquainted with him, that it was impossible for him to impose on them.

Coming one day to Squire Portman's house at Blandford, in the character of a rat-catcher, with a hair cap on his head, a buff girdle about his waste, a little box by his side, and a tame rat in his hand, he goes boldly up to the house, where he had been well known before, and meeting the squire, Parson Bryant, and one Mr. Pleydell, of Milbourn, and some other gentlemen, he asked them if they had any rats to kill. "Do you understand the business well?" says the squire. "Yes, an please your honour," replied Carew, "I have been a rat-catcher for many years, and I have been employed in his majesty's yards and ships." "Well," says the squire, "go in and get some vituals, and after dinner we will try your abilities." He was accordingly called into the parlour, where were a large company of gentlemen and ladies. "Well, honest rat-catcher," says the squire, "can you lay any scheme to kill the rats without hurting my dogs?" "Yes, yes," cries Carew, "I can lay it where even the rats cannot climb to reach it." "What countryman are you?" "A Devonshire man, an please your honour." "What is your name?" Here our hero began to perceive that he was discovered, by the smilings and whisperings of several gentlemen, and he very composedly answered, "My name is Bamfylde Moore Carew." This occasioned much mirth, and Mr. Pleydell expressed extraordinary pleasure. He had often wished to see him but never had. "Yes, you have," replied Carew, "and given me a suit of clothes. Do you not remember meeting a poor wretch one day at your stable door, with a stocking round his head, an old mantle over his shoulders, without shirt, stockings, or scarce any shoes, who told you he was a poor unfortunate man, cast away upon the coast, with sixteen more of the crew who were all drowned; you, believing the story, generously relieved me with a guinea and a good suit of clothes." "I well remember it," said Mr. Pleydell, "but, on this discovery, it is impossible to deceive me so again, come in whatever shape you will." The company blamed him for thus boasting, and secretly prevailed upon Carew to put his art in practice to convince him of the fallacy thereof: to which he agreed, and in a few days after appointing the company present to be at Mr. Pleydell's house, he put the following scheme into execution.

He shaved himself closely, and clothed himself in an old woman's apparel, with a high-crowned hat, and a large dowdy under his chin; then, taking three children from among his fraternity, he tied two on his back and one under his arm. Thus accoutred, he comes to Mr. Pleydell's door, and pinching one of the brats, set it a roaring; this gave the alarm to the dogs, who came out with open mouths, so that the whole company was soon alarmed. Out came the maid saying, "Carry away the children, good woman, they disturb the ladies." "God bless their ladyships," said Carew, "I am the poor unfortunate grandmother of these helpless infants, whose mother and all they had were burnt at the dreadful fire at Kirkton, and hope the good ladies, for Heaven's sake, will bestow something on the poor, famishing, starving infants." In goes the maid with this affecting story to the ladies, while Carew keeps pinching the children to make them cry, and the maid soon returned with half-a-crown and some good broth, which he thankfully received, and went into the court-yard to sit down and sup them, as perceiving the gentlemen were not at home. He had not long been there before they came, when one of them accosted him thus—"Where do you come from, old woman?" "From Kirkton, please your honours," said he, "where the poor unhappy mother of these helpless infants was burnt in the flames and all she had consumed." "There has been more money collected for Kirkton than ever Kirkton was worth," said the gentleman. However, they gave the supposed old grandmother a shilling, commiserating the hard case of her and her poor helpless infants, which he thankfully received, pretending to go away; but the gentlemen were hardly got into the house, before their ears were suddenly saluted with a "tantivy, tantivy," and a "halloo" to the dogs; on which they turned about, supposing it to be some other sportsmen; but seeing nobody, they imagined it to be Carew, in the disguise of the old Kirkton grandmother; so bidding the servants fetch him back, he was brought into the parlour among them all, and confessed himself to be the famous Mr. Bamfylde Moore Carew, to the astonishmet and mirth of them all; who well rewarded him for the diversion he had afforded them.

In like manner he raised a contribution twice in one day of Mr. Jones, near Bristol. In the morning, with a sooty face, leather apron, a dejected countenance, and a woollen cap, he was generously relieved as an unfortunate blacksmith, whose all had been consumed by fire. In the afternoon he exchanged his legs for crutches, and, with a dejected countenance, pale face, and every sign of pain, he became a disabled tinner, incapable of maintaining a wife and seven small children, by the damps and hardships he had suffered in the mines; and so well acted his part, that the tinner got as well relieved in the afternoon as the blacksmith in the morning.

These successful stratagems gained him high applause and honour in the community of gipsies. He soon became the favourite of their king, who was very old and decrepid, and had always some honourable mark of distinction assigned him at their assemblies.

Being one morning near the seat of his good friend, Sir William Courtney, he was resolved to pay him three visits that day. He therefore puts on a parcel of rags, and goes to him with a piteous, mean, dismal countenance, and deplorable tale, and got half-a-crown from him, telling him he had met with great misfortunes at sea. At noon he puts on a leather apron scorched with fire, and with a dejected countenance goes to him again, and was relieved as an unfortunate shoemaker, who had been burnt out of his house and all he had. In the afternoon he goes again in trimmed clothes, and desiring admittance to Sir William, with a modest grace and submissive eloquence, he repeats his misfortunes, as the supercargo of a vessel which had been cast away and his whole effects lost.

Sir William, seeing his genteel appearance and behaviour, treated him with respect and gave him a guinea at his departure. There were several gentlemen at dinner with Sir William at that time, none of whom had any knowledge of him except the Rev. Mr. Richards, who did not discover him till he was gone; upon which a servant was despatched to desire him to come back, which he did; and when he entered the room they were very merry with him and requested him to give an account how he got his fine clothes, and of his stratagems, with the success of them. He asked Sir William if he had not given half-a-crown in the morning to a beggar, and about noon relieved a poor unfortunate shoemaker. "I did," said Sir William. "Behold him before you," said Carew, "in this fine embroidered coat, as a broken merchant." The company would not believe him; so to convince them, he re-assumed those characters again, to their no small mirth and satisfaction.

Chapter III.

Carew made King of the Beggars.

On the death of the king of the gipsies, named Clause Patch, our hero was a candidate to succeed him, and exhibited to the electors a long list of bold and ingenious stratagems which he had executed, and made so graceful and majestic an appearance in his person, that he had a considerable majority of voices, though there were ten candidates for the same honour; on which he was declared duly elected and hailed by the whole assembly—King of the Gipsies. The public register of their acts being immediately committed to his care, and homage done him by all the assembly, the whole concluded by rejoicings.

Though Mr. Carew was now privileged, by the dignity of his office, from going on any cruise, and was provided with everything necessary by the joint contribution of the community, yet he did not give himself up to indolence. Our hero, though a king, was as active in his stratagems as ever, and ready to encounter any difficulty which seemed to promise success.

Mr. Carew being in the town of South Molton, in Devonshire, and having been ill-used by an officer there called the bellman, resolved on the following stratagem by way of revenge. It was at that time reported that a gentleman of the town, lately buried, walked nightly in the churchyard; and as the bellman was obliged by his nightly duty to go through it just at the very hour of one, Mr. Carew repaired thither a little before the time, and stripping in his shirt, lay down upon the gentleman's grave. Soon after, hearing the bellman approach, he raised himself up with a solemn slowness, which the bellman beholding, by the glimmerings of the moon through a dark cloud, was terribly frightened, so took to his heels and ran away. In his fright he looked behind him, and seeing the ghost following him, dropped his bell and ran the faster; which Carew seized on as a trophy, and forbore any further pursuit. The bellman did not stop till he reached home, where he obstinately affirmed he had seen the gentleman's ghost, who had taken away the bell, which greatly alarmed the whole town.

Coming to the seat of Squire Rhodes, in Devonshire, and knowing he had lately married a Dorsetshire lady, he thought proper to become a Dorsetshire man of Lyme, the place of the lady's nativity; and meeting the squire and his bride, he gave them to understand that he was lost in a vessel belonging to Lyme, Captain Courtney, commander. The squire and his lady gave him half-a-crown each, for country sake, and entertained him at their house.

Our hero, exercising his profession at Milbury, where the squire's father lived, and to whom the son was come on a visit, Mr. Carew made application to him, and knocking at the door, on its being opened, saw the young squire sitting alone, whom Mr. Rhodes interrupted by saying he "was twice in one day imposed on by that rogue Carew, of whose gang you may likely be: besides, I do not live here, but am a stranger." In the meantime comes the old squire, with a bottle of wine in his hand, giving Carew a wink to let him understand he knew him, and then very gravely inquired into the circumstances of his misfortunes, and also of the affairs and inhabitants of Dartmouth, from whence he pretended to have sailed several times, of all which he gave a full and particular account, whereupon the old squire gave him half-a-crown, and the young one the same; on which Carew and the old man burst into laughter, and discovered the whole affair, at which Squire Rhodes was a little chagrined at being imposed on a third time; but, on recollecting the expertness of the performer, was well satisfied, and they spent the remainder of the day in mirth and jollity.

At Bristol he dressed himself like a poor mechanic, and then going out into the streets, acted the religious madman, talking in a raving manner about Messrs. Whitfield and Wesley, as though he was disordered in his mind by their preaching; calling in a furious manner, every step, upon the Virgin Mary, Pontius Pilate, and Mary Magdalene, and acting every part of a man religiously mad; sometimes walking with his eyes fixed upon the ground, and then on a sudden he would break out in some passionate expressions about religion. This behaviour greatly excited the curiosity and compassion of the people; some of them talked to him, but he answered everything they said in a wild and incoherent manner; and, as compassion is generally the forerunner of charity, he was relieved by most of them.

Next morning he appeared in a morning gown, still acting the madman, and addressed himself to all the posts of the street, as if they were saints, lifting up his hands and eyes to heaven, in a fervent but distracted manner, and making use of so many extravagant gestures, that he astonished the whole city. Going through Castle Street he met the Rev. Mr. Bone, whom he accosted with his arms thrown around him, and insisted, in a raving manner, he should tell him who was the father of the morning star; which frightened the parson so much, that he took to his heels and ran for it, Carew running after him, till the parson was obliged to take shelter in a house.

Having well recruited his pocket by this stratagem, he left Bristol next day, and travelled towards Bath, acting the madman all the way till he came to Bath: as soon as he came there, he inquired for Dr. Coney's, and being directed to his house, found two brother mendicants at the door. After they had waited some time, the servant brought out each of them a halfpenny, for which his brother mendicants were very thankful. But Carew gave his halfpenny to one of them; then knocking at the door, and the maid coming out again, "Tell your master," says he, "I am not a halfpenny man, but that my name is Bamfylde Moore Carew, king of the mendicants;" which being told, the doctor came out with one of his daughters and gave him sixpence and a mug of drink, for which he returned them thanks.

Mr. Carew happening to be in the city of Wells on a Sunday, was told the bishop was to preach that morning, on which he slipped on a black waistcoat and morning gown, and ran out to meet the bishop as he was walking in procession, and addressed himself to him as a poor unhappy man, whose misfortunes had turned his brains; which the bishop hearing gave him half-a-crown.

It was in Newcastle-upon-Tyne that he became enamoured with the daughter of Mr. Glady, an eminent apothecary and surgeon there. This young lady had charms sufficient to captivate the heart of any man susceptible of love; and they made so deep an impression upon him, that they wholly effaced every object which before had created any desire in him, and never permitted any other to raise them afterwards; for, wonderful to tell, we have, after about thirty years' enjoyment, seen him lament her occasional absence, almost with tears, and talk of her with all the fondness of one who has been in love with her but three days. Our hero tried all love's persuasions with his fair one in an honourable way, and, as his person was very engaging and his appearance genteel, he did not find her greatly averse to his proposals. As he was aware that his being of the community of gipsies might prejudice her against him, without examination, he passed with her for the mate of a collier's vessel, in which he was supported by Captain Lawn, in whose vessel they set sail; and the very winds being willing to favour these happy lovers, they had an exceedingly quick passage to Dartmouth, where they landed. In a few days they set out for Bath, where they lawfully solemnized their nuptials with great gaiety and splendour; and nobody at that time could conjecture who they were, which was the cause of much speculation and false surmises.

Some time after this he took his passage at Folkstone, in Kent, for Boulogne, in France, where he arrived safe and proceeded to Paris and other noted cities of that kingdom. His habit was now tolerably good, his countenance grave, his behaviour sober and decent—pretending to be a Roman Catholic, who had left England, his native country, out of an ardent zeal for spending his days in the bosom of the Catholic church. This story readily gained belief: his zeal was universally applauded, and handsome contributions made for him. But, at the time he was so zealous a Roman Catholic, with a little change of habit, he used to address those English he heard of in any place, as a Protestant and shipwrecked seaman; and had the good fortune to meet with an English physician at Paris, to whom he told this deplorable tale, who not only relieved him very handsomely, but recommended him to that noble pattern of unexhausted benevolence, Mrs. Horner, who was then on her travels, from whom he received ten guineas, and from some other company with her five more.

It was about this time he became acquainted with the Hon. Sir William Weem, in the following manner:—Being at Watchett, in Somersetshire, near the seat of that gentleman, he resolved to pay him a visit. Putting on, therefore, a jacket and a pair of trousers, he made the best of his way to Sir William's seat, and luckily met Sir William, Lord Bolingbroke, and several other gentlemen and clergy, with some commanders of vessels, walking in the park. Carew approached Sir William with a great deal of seeming fearfulness and respect, and with much modesty acquainted him he was a Silverton man, that he was the son of one of his tenants named Moore—had been to Newfoundland, and in his passage homeward, the vessel was run down by a French ship in a fog, and only he and two more were saved; but being put on board an Irish vessel, were carried into Ireland, and from thence landed at Watchett. Sir William hearing this, asked him a great many questions concerning the inhabitants of Silverton, who were most of them his own tenants, and of the principal gentlemen in the neighbourhood; all whom Carew was well acquainted with and therefore gave satisfactory answers. Sir William at last asked him if he knew Bickley, and if he knew the parson thereof. Carew replied that he knew him very well, and so indeed he might as it was no other than his own father. Sir William then inquired what family he had, and whether he had not a son named Bamfylde, and what became of him. "Your honour," replied he, "means the beggar and dog-stealer—I don't know what has become of him, but it is a wonder if he is not hanged by this time." "No, I hope not," replied Sir William, "I should be glad, for his family's sake, to see him at my house." Having satisfactorily answered many other questions, Sir William generously relieved him with a guinea, and Lord Bolingbroke followed his example; the other gentlemen and clergy contributed according to their different ranks. Sir William then ordered him to go to his house and tell the butler to entertain him, which he accordingly did, and set himself down with great comfort.

Having heard that young Lord Clifford, his first cousin (who had just returned from his travels abroad), was at his seat at Callington, about four miles from Bridgewater, he resolved to pay him a visit. In his way thither resided parson Carson, who, being one whom nature had made up in a hurry without a heart, Mr. Carew had never been able to obtain anything off him, even under the most moving appearance of distress, but a small cup of drink. Stopping now in his way, he found the parson was gone to Lord Clifford's; but, being saluted at the door by a fine black spaniel, with almost as much crustiness as he would have been had his master been at home, he thought himself under no stronger obligation of observing the strict laws of honour, than the parson did of hospitality; and therefore soon charmed the crossness of the spaniel and made him follow him to Bridgewater.

Having secured the spaniel and passed the night merrily at Bridgewater, he set out the next morning for Lord Clifford's, and in his way called upon the parson again, who very crustily told him he had lost his dog, and supposed some of his gang had stolen him; to which Mr. Carew very calmly replied, "What was he to his dog, or what was his dog to him? if he would make him drink it was well, for he was very dry." At last, with the use of much rhetoric, he got a cup of small drink; then, taking leave of him, he went to the Red Lion, in the same parish, where he stayed some time. In the meantime, down ran the parson to my Lord Clifford's, to acquaint him that Mr. Carew was in the parish and to advise him to take care of his dogs; so that Mr. Carew, coming down immediately after, found a servant with one dog in his arms, and another with another, here one stood whistling and another calling, and both my lord and his brother were running about to seek after their favourites.

Mr. Carew asked my lord what was the meaning of this hurry, and if his dogs were cripples, because he saw several carried in the servants' arms, adding, he hoped his lordship did not imagine he was come to steal any of them. Upon which his lordship told him, that parson Carson had advised him to be careful, as he had lost his spaniel but the day before. "It may be so," replied he, "the parson knows but little of me, or the laws of our community, if he is ignorant that with us ingratitude is unknown, and the property of our friends always sacred." His lordship, hearing this, entertained him very handsomely, and both himself and his brother made him a present.

On his return home, he reflected how idly he had spent the prime of life; and recovering from a severe illness, he came to a resolution of resigning the Egyptian sceptre. The assembly, finding him determined, reluctantly acquiesced, and he departed amidst the applause and sighs of his subjects.

Our adventurer, finding the air of the town not rightly to agree with him, and the death of some of his relations rendering his circumstances quite easy, he retired to the western parts, to a neat purchase he had made, and there he ended his days, beloved and esteemed by all; leaving his daughter (his wife dying some time before him) a genteel fortune, who was married to a neighbouring young gentleman.